Meat Loaf was a singer who won a Grammy award for the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance in the country for the song “I’d Do Anything for Love,” went on more than 30 tours to sell his records, and had three “Bat Out of Hell” albums that sold more than 65 million copies. He also appeared in more than 50 movies including Fight Club, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Wayne’s World.
On January 7, 2022 his daughter, Pearl Aday, posted on Instagram that several of her friends and family had recently tested positive for COVID-19. A few weeks later, he cancelled a business meeting for a planned reality show. His wife and daughters remained at his side throughout his disease course, but on January 30, 2022, at age 74, he died of COVID-19. His vaccine status is not known. Throughout the pandemic, he had ignored the safety precautions for a person at high risk for complications from COVID-19. He had spoken out against vaccination, wearing masks, and isolation.
Meatloaf’s Medical History Put Him at High Risk for Serious COVID-19
People with immune defects are at high risk for severe COVID-19, hospitalization and death (JAMA Intern Med, published online December 28, 2021). Meat Loaf described himself as a “cat with 48 lives”. He suffered from severe back pain for many years, had four back surgeries and at times could barely walk. He collapsed at least four times on stage. He had slurred speech that was caused by a cyst on his vocal cords. He was extremely overweight and had diabetes for several years. He was in a near fatal car accident, and he had heart surgery to treat an irregular heartbeat called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.
Early Years and Performing Career
Marvin Lee Aday weighed nine and a half pounds when he was born on Sept. 27, 1947. Weighing nine pounds or more at birth is a major risk factor for diabetes. He said his father nicknamed him “Meat” when he was four days old because he was so large. He was only six feet tall, but his huge size made him a prime candidate to be an interior lineman on his high school football team, and his coach called him “Meat Loaf.” He said that his beautiful singing voice appeared in his sophomore year after a 12-pound shot put, thrown from 62-feet away, hit him in his head and “Didn’t even knock me out.” After that, he suddenly had a three-and-a-half-octave vocal range.
His father was an alcoholic who beat him regularly. When he was 18, his mother died from breast cancer, and several days after her funeral, his father came home drunk and threatened Meat Loaf with a butcher knife in his hand. He later recalled that, “I rolled off the bed just as he put that knife right in the mattress. I fought for my life. Apparently I broke his nose and three ribs, and I left the house barefoot in a pair of gym shorts and a T-shirt.”
He moved to Los Angeles, formed a band called Meat Loaf Soul, and opened for artists such as Janis Joplin and Van Morrison. In 1968 at age 21, he signed a record contract with the Motown subsidiary Rare Earth. He then moved to New York to play in the show More Than You Deserve. He said that when he sang the lead song, “everyone stood on their feet and went crazy . . . and that happened every night, all week.” He then partnered with songwriter and pianist Jim Steinman, and they worked together composing songs. They composed “Bat Out of Hell” and sang it on Saturday Night Live, and it became five times platinum. From then on, he would go through cycles from stardom to failure, but he continued to tour, mostly in Europe, and to act in movies.
• In 2003, at age 52, he postponed a show at London’s Wembley Arena after collapsing on stage, and was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat called Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a congenital heart defect in which a person has an extra electrical pathway in the upper and lower chambers of the heart. He received surgical catheter ablation to destroy small areas of heart tissue to block these abnormal electrical signals.
• In 2007, at age 56, he canceled a European tour because of “laryngitis” and was diagnosed with a vocal cord cyst.
• In 2008, at age 57, his insurance company told him that they would cover him only for concerts lasting only up to one hour and 45 minutes. We do not know the reason for this.
• In 2011, an asthma attack caused him to collapse on stage during a concert in Pittsburgh. He fainted, but managed to finish his show.
• In 2012, he told reporters that dying on stage would be the best thing that could happen to him. “I’ll die for ya,” he said in an interview with Tinnitist. A spokesman for his record label, Mercury, said he “collapsed from exhaustion due to a prolonged viral infection.”
• In 2013, he told Ultimate Classic Rock that he had suffered 18 concussions, survived eight car crashes, had close calls on planes, had fallen three stories, and had so many near misses and collisions that he should have died. These accidents were not verified.
• In 2016 he collapsed on stage and said to The Mirror, “Listen, I am not dying. After three months of therapy I will be fine. I am sick of talking about it. I don’t want to talk about it from now on . . . and anyone else who asks me the question, I’m not going to respond to it. I had MRIs and the doctors said I had a little cyst but that it had grown and was pushing against the nerves . . . after the doctors opened up my back to remove it, they filled my back with little nuts and bolts”.
• In February, 2018, he had his fourth back surgery. He said, “It left me in a lot of pain but I have some form of life. I now have 13 screws holding on a metal plate or plates in half my back.”
• In 2019 at the Texas Frightmare horror convention, he fell off the stage and was transferred to a Nashville hospital where he received treatment for 30 days for injuries to his neck, collar bone, and shoulder.
Why COVID-19 is So Deadly for Some People
The Covid-19 virus is not an especially deadly virus and usually does not cause symptoms any more severe than those caused by the common cold (New Sci, Jan 23, 2022;249(3318):12–13). It has caused a world-wide pandemic because before 2019, no human had ever been infected by this specific virus, so no one had previous exposure to provide them with immunity to protect them from being infected. Any human who is sufficiently exposed to this virus for the first time will become infected by it, but the vast majority will have minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, anyone who has a defective immune system is at high risk for hospitalization, needing intensive care, being intubated and even dying (MMWR Weekly Report, January 7, 2022;71(1);19–25). Risk factors that applied to Meat Loaf included:
• over 65 years of age,
• organ damage to the heart, liver, kidney, lungs or nerves
• having immune defects or taking drugs to suppress a person’s immune system
COVID-19 is often, but not always, a benign disease. However, people who have immune defects are at significant risk for suffering severe disease and dying. Many people who have immune defects do not know it. I recommend that everyone, with few exceptions, should be immunized.
“Meat Loaf” Marvin Lee Aday
Sept. 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022